Cleverly expects serious test against Kovalev
WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly (26-0) defends his title against dangerous Sergey Kovalev (21-0-1) on August 17 at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff. In what he calls his first 'real' fight for some time.
The 26-year-old Welshman's career has stalled in the past 18 months with promoter Frank Warren struggling to find him credable opponents.
However, in the undefeated Kovalev, Cleverly will come up against serious threat in the sixth defence of his belt.
Kovalev is a big step up in terms of both quality and profile for Cleverly.
The Russian, 30, is unbeaten in 22 as a pro, with 19 stoppage wins, 18 coming inside three rounds. Having destroyed Spain's ex-WBA champion Gabriel Campillo and American Cornelius White, both 3rd round TKOs, Kovalev became mandatory challenger for Bernard Hopkins' IBF title but has opted instead to take on Cleverly.
Cleverly last defended his title in April when he scored a points win over Robin Krasniqi and believes victory over Kovalev will pave the way towards the super-fights he craves.
"This is the kind of fight I have been looking for for a long time and it's a great chance for me to showcase my talent and show everybody what I'm all about," said Cleverly.
"It is definitely the biggest test. You've got someone who wants my world title and who is undefeated and is coming with the hype from America. So this is a real fight."
"I thought we might have lost the big fight especially when Sergey was mandatory for the IBF title," added Cleverly. "But fortunately we solved a few issues and we got the fight we wanted. It's nice not to be mentioned as the favourite in this fight - there are a lot of mixed opinions and in a way that takes a lot of pressure off. When you fight nobodies the pressure is all on the champion, but a fight such as this, some people expect me to win and some expect Kovalev to win. It's great to go into a fight with that kind of challenge."